Teen moms more prone to obesity later in life

Teen pregnancy a risk for obesity
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Rising rates of obesity has drawn researchers to understand what factors contribute to growing waistlines. A study published two days ago shows teen pregnancy is a risk factor for obesity later in life, though the reasons are unclear.

The finding that comes from University of Michigan researchers and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology is the first to identify the long-term health effects of teen pregnancy that the authors say has not been a focus.

Other immediate concerns, including child care, finances and school and social support, said lead study author Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, MS in a press release.

The finding is based on data from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES).

Women who were pregnant between the ages of 13 and 19 were found to be at significantly higher risk of obesity compared to those who waited until age 20 or beyond to give birth. The chances of obesity were 3 percent higher after taking into account a variety of factors including race, socioeconomic factors, education and other factors.

The research shows teen moms are at higher risk for obesity, but the reasons are still not clear.

Chang says more studies are needed to understand the finding to help women get the best care possible.

Pregnancy is a known risk factor for obesity and one-third to one-quarter of reproductive age women in the U.S. are obese, Chang points out.

She said the study adds to the health risks of teenage pregnancy that also include lower birth weight and struggling to finish high school.

The study is important because of the toll obesity takes on individual health, difficulty in losing weight and the toll of obesity on our health care system and dollars spent in annual care that was estimated at 10 percent of annual expenditure in the U.S. in 2010.

University of Michigan Health System
April 19, 2013